What’s Up with Princeton Broadband? A Progress Report

keep-calm-and-check-progress-5The Princeton Broadband Committee kept on pace with several objectives during the summer months, meeting regularly to assure its aggressive agenda moves forward on several fronts. Here’s a brief update:

Matrix/Millennium Proposal

In June the committee voted to forward an amended version of the Memo of Understanding with Matrix/Millennium to the newly formed Princeton Broadband MLP whose members are now responsible for approving the contract. The MLP was successful in obtaining legal counsel to review specifics of the contract on behalf of the town of Princeton. As a result, the agreement was deemed satisfactory by our attorney who also reported to us that we are not required by law to solicit bids from other installers/contractors for the project. Building the actual network infrastructure as proposed would be done with private versus public funding. Use of public funding would have required the public bidding process and potentially added many months to the decision-making timetable. Note, Princeton Broadband MLP has taken no action on the Matrix/Millennium proposal to date – there are additional legal considerations being addressed.

Possible State Funding

The committee regularly monitored progress of a major technology bill (H.3770), which has passed legislative hurdles in August and was signed by Gov. Duvall Patrick. A portion of the bill allocates $45 million to Massachusetts Broadband Institute to cover “last mile” expenses to assist the state’s “unserved” communities, which includes Princeton. The committee is actively participating in lobbying activities currently underway to determine how those funds will be fairly distributed. In fact, we have recently began a strategy to better engage our elected officials in Boston and are pleased with the strong levels of support initially received from those who represent us in the State House.

Wired West Membership

We moved forward our application process with Wired West, which was officially approved and accepted at their September meeting. Membership with Wired West is a significant boost in our efforts to secure our share of funding when the MBI monies are distributed this fall.

ISP Pricing Models

The committee spent time exploring ISP pricing structures and continues work in that regard to assure that residents get the best value at the best service. As a source of comparison, the town of Leverett, MA (who is in the process of building their own network), recently released service and pricing information. You can view their pricing structure here.

Possible FCC Funding

We identified another source of potential financial assistance with the announcement of $100 million in grant money available from the FCC for their Experiments in Rural Broadband program. Our population density and lack of existing broadband make us eligible to apply for funds no greater than $750,000. An application is due in October.

* * * * *

The Fall months should bring us closer to our goal of bringing high-speed fiber optic Internet into Princeton homes. Several legal and regulatory hurdles are now behind us and news regarding state funding allocations is coming soon. We will continue to update you as we make more progress.

 

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7 comments

  1. steverehrauer

    Thanks for the update, Rich. Do you have a sense of when we might begin hearing firmer estimates on both the total cost of the project, and the net cost after any grants? This year, or would it not be until 2015?

    • richwagner

      Steve, thanks for your response. I know we on the committee definitely want to have all of the numbers figured out this Fall and are working towards that end. At the same time, there are a lot of parties involved at all levels (local, state, national, corporate), which could definitely influence the overall timetable. So, I don’t have an immediate answer for you on that, but I believe that we will find out within the next 6 weeks or so how rapid or slow this next stage of the process will be.

  2. Ron Peterson

    I appreciate what has been accomplished to date. You now have the town’s approval to move forward. You have or could Leverett’s plan for installation. You are working with 1 supplier. You have your lawyers. Therefore, is not possible to expedite the process. Could we not do some of these tasks in parallel rather than in series. For instance, could we not get started on registering the Princeton population now. We already have a determination of cost per installation. This could allow us to initiate the design phase a little quicker.
    My main concern is we are on hold trying to obtain every freebie we can get from state or federal government. I also know we don’t want to make any mistakes during this process and we want get an estimate for every nickle and dime. The problem is time is going by and pretty soon it will be 2015 … 2016 ,,, 2017. I think the team knows pretty much what has to be done, So let’s go.
    Thanks for listening.

    • richwagner

      Ron, thanks for your feedback. We actually are going down these various paths concurrently — moving ahead on the Matrix/Millennium proposal at the same time we are exploring the state and federal angles. But, progress on the network construction proposal is definitely not being held up as we investigate those possible state/federal sources of grant funding. And, I totally share with your concern on time slipping by (particularly as one that works at home four days a week). We definitely want to have a lasting solution asap.

  3. Bill LaBaire

    This is another great update Rich. Could I ask what is the current status of the “Middle Mile?” The main trunk to the internet? Is it installed and idle? Is it installed and lit for Thomas Prince/government offices/library?

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